House Bill 551 Puts Sports Betting On Kentucky’s Legislative Floor

March 1, 2023 | Government

KENTUCKY (February 27, 2023) — According to the Lane Report and a number of other state sources, the Kentucky General Assembly could soon be addressing sports betting.

Rep. Michael Meredith filed HB 551 Friday afternoon, legislation that, if passed, would legalize the wagering on sports outcomes.

In a written statement, Meredith noted that Kentucky residents are “placing bets today with illegal, unregulated offshore gaming entities, bookies, or by [legally] driving across state lines.” And as a result, the Commonwealth is getting “no benefit,” while “shouldering all costs.”

Meredith also pointed to the fact that recent polls show more than half of the Commonwealth’s population supports legalized sports wagering, and that the “time has come” to ask if it’s truly in “the best interest of Kentucky” to prevent adults from “legally placing a bet.”

Betting on horse racing has long been legal in the Bluegrass State, and oftentimes is marked as a rite of passage into adulthood.

Other gaming options, not so much.

HB 551 seeks the legalization and regulation of gambling on live sporting events and would allow consumers to have similar online betting accounts, not unlike six surrounding states: Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

Furthermore in HB 551, it would be required that online gaming providers be associated with a Kentucky horseracing track while offering the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission regulatory responsibility over gaming companies. Sports wagering options would and could be provided through a licensed facility, an online source or a mobile application.

Revenues raised through these licenses would then be allocated to a newly-created sports wagering administrative fund, which would cover all administrative costs pertaining to licensing and regulating providers — and the remaining monies earmarked for the negative offsets lined with the multi-billion-dollar liability currently existing within the state’s public pensions.

Per Meredith’s proposal, initial license fees would be set at $500,000 for tracks, $50,000 for gaming providers, and annual renewals respectively set at $50,000 and $10,000.

If this makes it through the House and Senate, the bill would allow the wagering on the following: professional and amateur sporting events, college sports, international sports like the Olympics and World Cup Soccer, e-sports and other competitive video gaming events. An entity or governing body could request a restriction or limit on the wagering of said events.

HB 551 would not legalize online poker or betting on fantasy sports. It sets the minimum sports betting age at 18, and remains consistent with other age limit uses for other legal gaming actions such as horse race betting and purchasing into the Kentucky Lottery.

Perhaps of local note, west Kentucky feels particularly primed for this opportunity, with Ellis Park Racing & Gaming located in Henderson County, and the Oak Grove Racing, Gaming & Hotel located in southern Christian County.

SOURCE: WPKY, The Edge Media Group KY.

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